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Great American Smokeout unites smokers in quitting

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This year's Great American Smokeout will be held on Thursday, Nov. 19. This event, sponsored by the American Cancer Society with the help of corporate sponsor SmithKline Beecham, encourages smokers to quit using tobacco of any kind and to remain tobacco-free.

The information on pages 28 and 29 was provided by the American Cancer Society.


In 1971, Arthur P. Mullaney created an event in Randolph, Mass., which asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund.

On Thursday, Nov. 18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society got nearly one million of the state's five million smokers to quit for the day on the Great American Smokeout.

The first national Great American Smokeout was held on the third Thursday of November in 1977.

Smoker profile.

In 1995, an estimated 47 million adults were smokers in the U.S.

Statistics show that smoking prevalence is higher for men than for women, and is highest among American Indians and Alaskan natives compared with other ethnic groups. Smoking prevalence is highest among men who have only 9-11 years of education.

In a 1996 National Household survey on Drug Abuse, adolescent smokers were profiled, revealing that nearly 4 million American adolescents smoke cigarettes.

In 1996, 22.2 percent of high school seniors smoked daily up from 17.2 percent in 1992. Among high school students, 71 percent have tried cigarette smoking.

Smoking and teenagers.

For the more than 80 percent of adults who have ever smoked, cigarette smoking was initiated by age 18, and more than half were already smoking regularly by that age. Those who start smoking at younger ages are more likely to become heavy smokers with greater barriers to cessation.

During the Great American Smokeout, students from middle schools across the country will "scream out" against smoking in the American Cancer Society's Great American Smoke Scream.

The American Cancer Society asks teenagers across the nation to pledge to lead smoke-free lives or to kick the habit of smoking.

Many stores and retail outlets across the nation offer discounts to teenagers who sign the Great American Smokeout Pledge to signify the money the students are saving by not using tobacco products.

Cost of tobacco.

?The cost tobacco has on society is best measured by the number of people who die or suffer illness because of its use. One in five Americans die each year from tobacco use. The annual American death toll from tobacco-related causes is estimated at 419,000.

?Tobacco use drains the U.S. economy of more than $100 billion in health-care costs and lost productivity. Health-care expenditures caused directly by smoking totaled $50 billion in 1993, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these costs, 43 percent were paid by government funds, including Medicaid and Medicare.

?Smokers die younger than the average American, but over the course of their lives, current and former smokers generate an estimated $501 billion in excess health care costs. Tobacco costs Medicare more than $15 billion per year.

Quiting smoking.

?Through the Great American Smokeout, the American Cancer Society and SmithKline Beecham are educating the public about the benefits of smoking cessation and informing smokers of newly available products designed to help them.

?The American Cancer Society and SmithKline Beecham also help smokers prepare psychologically to make an honest attempt at quitting for the Great American Smokeout through the Commit to Quit program. The objective of this program is to help smokers prepare to quit by developing a personal "quit plan" before the Great American Smokeout begins so they are fully committed to successfully quitting by Nov. 19.

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy and service. For more information about community-based activities planned for the Great American Smokeout, contact your local American Cancer Society, call 800-ACS-2345, or visit the organization's web site at http// [[In-content Ad]]


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